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07/07/01 . By PHIL COUVRETTE . Associated Press . Canada
Seven Montreal McDonald's Vandalized
MONTREAL (AP) - Seven McDonald's restaurants in and around Montreal were vandalized Saturday in simultaneous attacks.
Also Saturday, police said a pepper spray-like chemical was released in the air near an underground shopping area, causing patrons' eyes to sting, police said.
No one was seriously injured in the chemical attack, but it forced the evacuation of some 500 people and the closure of three subway stations for almost an hour, said Montreal police spokesman Ian Lafreniere.
A McDonald's was located near the site of the chemical release, but police said they did not know if the attack was targeted at the restaurant. Police could not say what exactly the chemical was or how it was released.
The attacks against the seven McDonald's restaurants in and around Montreal all took place around 8 a.m. In all incidents, trash cans were set on fire in the restaurant bathrooms, said Lafreniere.
Police are investigating whether the seven attacks were linked to a labor dispute between McDonald's and the union Centrale Syndicats Nationaux.
The union's spokesman Marc Laviolette on Saturday denied any connection to the vandalism, calling the damage "regrettable."
Last month, the sole McDonald's branch in Canada with union workers was closed. The union accuses the restaurant management of systematic union-busting.
A message left on the answering system at McDonald's regional headquarters in Montreal went unanswered Saturday.